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I stood at the door of the master bedroom and watched Daddy grieve for his wife and unborn child. I love him very much, and it breaks me to see him in so much pain. Daddy is a strong man and throughout the funeral and reception, he never shed a tear. Now however, in the privacy of our house and his room, he let the tears flow. I had been unable to sleep and—feeling his hurt—had been drawn to his room.

“Daddy, can I come in?”

He raised himself up on his forearms and looked at me through bloodshot eyes. Taking his silence to mean I could enter, I climbed into the big bed with him.

“Idera, I really love…loved…your mummy,” he stuttered.

“I know, Daddy.”

He looked broken, defeated, and I pushed him back till he laid his head on the pillow.

I held him and stroked his face trying to comfort him. Suddenly, it seemed like I was the adult and he, the six-year-old.

I thought back to the day I had been welcomed into this family that seemed to be plagued with misfortune.

Less than five months ago, I had looked up at the couple that the orphanage mother just introduced as my new parents. The man looked nice, handsome even, but his wife looked nothing like him. She had a scowl on her face and as she bent down to rub my cheek I held on tightly to the index finger of the orphanage mother and gripped my tattered teddy bear, Jojo, with my right arm. My new mother-to-be scared me.

I was silent as my new father buckled me into the funny looking seat at the back of their big car. When he bent over me, I caught a whiff of his perfume. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. It was all-male. We drove for a while past some of the tallest buildings I had ever seen and then we drove into a palace.

I turned to Daddy and asked, “Is this your house?”

“Yes dear. And now, it’s yours too princess,” he said smiling at me.

He unstrapped the car seat, lifted me out of it and carried me into the house. Mommy already went in earlier.

Sometime later, I sat in the frilliest bedroom ever. It was ten times bigger than my room at the orphanage, which I had to share with five other girls. The room was so pink that I almost felt dizzy, and there were so many toys. I looked at Jojo all tired with one ear nearly ripped off and one eye. Holding Jojo even more tightly, I decided that he was irreplaceable. He was all I had with me when my real mother dropped me off at the orphanage when I was one. For five years, Jojo was with me through it all. None of these toys could replace him. I was still looking at my unfamiliar surroundings when Dad looked in on me and asked if he could read me a story. I nodded, and that’s when I heard the story of Rapunzel for the first time.

Every night, Daddy read stories about different animals and fairy tales to me. Mommy was always civil, but I knew she didn’t really want me. I still remember the argument she had with Daddy the night I became a princess. She had wanted a day old baby or a month old baby, but Dad had fallen in love with me at first sight, something about my fragile porcelain doll look, and he had put his foot down insisting they adopt me.

As the days went by, I was very sure that I did not like Mummy. I decided that Daddy and I would be happier without her. I hated how Daddy looked at her as if she were his world, and he couldn’t live without her. Thankfully, she stopped acting like I was invisible. I could see her making efforts to love me. I did not fall for it, though. I could see right through her and knew this was a ploy to make Daddy love her even more.

And then I heard I was getting a baby brother. I had to do something. Mommy never really liked me in the first place and now a new baby meant I’d become invisible. Even daddy who loves me now may stop loving me when a son comes. Our mother at the orphanage always said “three is a crowd.” I really didn’t want to consider what four would mean. I knew I had to do something about it.

I looked at Daddy. He had finally found sleep though it had to be a restless one since he kept talking in his sleep and squeezing his face. I stroked his face again hoping to get him to quiet down.

***

I recalled the day mommy died. She had been found at the bottom of the stairs bleeding profusely. The doctor said she bled to death and that she had been brought to the hospital too late.

What the doctors could not have known was that Mommy had been pushed down the stairs and that I stood watching her moan, reaching out to me for help. I did nothing and looked in fascination at the river of blood that flowed towards me. Its finger trailing a path to my stockinged feet. I stepped back, avoided the blood and watched as mother’s moans grew weaker then stopped altogether. I went back up the stairs to my room and slept more peacefully than I had in the weeks since I found out that Mother was having another baby.

 

Stroking the stubble on Daddy’s face, I told myself that Mommy had to go. I would take care of him. He certainly wouldn’t mourn forever. We didn’t need mommy. We would be fine on our own. I would make sure of it.

 

************

Post image by emeraldschell via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - ObinnaJennifer Obinna is an Award winner from the Nigerian Law School (Alexander Darnley Prize for Property Law). She is a Lawyer and presently a Team Lead at the Diamond Bank contact Centre. She holds an LLB degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria. She presently blogs at www.jenniferogechukwuobinna.wordpress.com. She is passionate about the written word. She loves reading prose and recently developed an interest in poetry. When she is not busy with work, she spends her time writing fiction (short stories).

 

 

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

6 Responses to “Depraved Innocence | Jennifer Obinna | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Felicia Reevers April 11, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Dark and menacing! This child could kill again. Hope her father never upsets her! Excellent writing!

  2. Emmanuel Okoro April 11, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    Lovely!
    Jennifer is bae, abeg.

  3. Awele April 12, 2016 at 3:13 am #

    This is beautiful!

  4. chi April 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    My problem with writing a story in a child’s voice is that they never sound like a child but like an adult. Nice story but this sounds nothing like a 6yr old. The part where she perceived the fragrance of her dad’s perfume was just so off speaking from a child’s perspective.

  5. Kelso April 13, 2016 at 1:28 am #

    I watch a lot of movies, series, and I read a lot of books. And I have to say; this story is unoriginal.

    I’ve seen a couple of movies were a married couple adopts a child; and the child ends up killing the mother because of jealousy. So this story did not move me, whatsoever.

    However, congrats on getting It published.

  6. Catherine O May 1, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    Creepy! I like!

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